Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward
I admit to a science fiction reader shortcoming: I love to watch science fiction, but usually don’t care to read it, especially the sub-genre of ‘hard science fiction.’
And to be completely honest, I thought I gave myself a migraine reading the first pages of Dragon’s Egg (an astrophysics crash course in neutron stars). Once past the cold hard super-heavy facts, I thoroughly enjoyed the development of the cheela life-form and the brief interaction the human scientists experienced.
I completely sympathized with the crew of the Dragon Slayer not wanting to blink, let alone sleep, as they watched the astonishing development of cheela society. In just a few hours, the cheela civilization went from ‘savages, stagnating in an illiterate haze’ to outpacing human development by ‘many thousands of years.’ Relatively speaking, of course.
I didn’t connect to any one particular cheela, since their lifespans were so short in human terms, nor with any of the scientists, who got the short-end of the stick when it came to their story-line. But my eyes teared up reading a farewell delivered by a cheela robot to the human scientists, a fitting benediction to a benevolent mutually beneficial first contact interaction.
Recommended for all fans of science fiction, first contact stories and hard sci-fi novels.
The reason I read this book? It won the poll for the March 2011 Beyond Reality science fiction selection.